Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Witzard's Week In Rap: "Prime Cuts" from A$AP Rocky, Earl Sweatshirt, Giovanni James, Guilty Simpson & Massive Attack (January 24-30th Ed.)

Let's face it, there are a lot of great (and not-so great) Hip-Hop tracks, music videos, albums, mixtapes, EP's, etc. released on a weekly, if not even daily, basis; a person like myself, who single-handedly runs what I would deem a moderately "successful" publication, whilst working a 9-5, manipulating a relationship with my wonderful girlfriend, family, and friends, and leading a generally hectic existence, there isn't always time to cover every Hip-Hop release I would hypothetically like to within an average week's time. Hence, I've decided to enact a weekly "The Witzard's Week In Rap" (still a working title) column akin to Stereogum's 5 Best Videos of The Week or Status Ain't Hood, which will hopefully, be published every Friday or Saturday night. It may or may not include songs/videos that I have/hadn't exactly had the chance to cover throughout the course of the week prior and will generally showcase five companion short, yet explanatory write-ups listed in no particular order or ranking. EDITOR'S WARNING: Every week from now, through, up until, and maybe even after February 11 16 will likely feature a selection from or somehow related to Kanye's soon forthcoming WAVES (formerly SWISH) or "weekly" G.O.O.D. Fridays series, if he ever gets back in the swing of a rigid Friday release schedule... so, if you wouldn't exactly categorize yourself as a fan of Mr. West or his often zany related antics, I would suggest you steer clear of this very column for at least the first few weeks.

- Matt Horowitz, Editor In Chief

A$AP Rocky quietly released Pharrell-produced "Hear Me" and a full-length version of his Drake "Wu-Tang Forever" Amix nearly one day before unveiling his Antiports-animated "JD" cartoon-esque video. It's seemingly a reference to the undeniable, timeless cool of 1950's heart-throb James Dean. While "JD" appears within last year's critically-acclaimed ALLA, "Hear Me" and "Wu-Tang Forever" may very well end up on a forthcoming A$AP Rocky mixtape tentatively titled COZY TAPE (FREESTYLES), judging by AWGE's recent "JD"-reminiscent single artwork. Although it's only a brief 2:03-minute clip, "JD" manages to evoke a unique effect, which I would imagine was apparently achieved by filming live-action footage that was then seemingly "painted over" by animators Antiports.

"Whoa, @earlxsweat killed this Thomas East flip [of "Slippin' Around"] from our "Loving On The Flipside" comp," @nowagain founder Egon exclaimed following the release of Earl Sweatshirt's "WIND IN MY SAILS." It was suddenly uploaded to his hilariously-titled important_man464 Soundcloud page Tuesday afternoon without any prior murmur of warning along with "SKRT SKRT" and Kanye-sampling "bary." Earl seemingly decided to simply re-use the beat beneath Captain Murphy's menacing "Children of The Atom," which was produced by The Alchemist and shouts out "otis the god" [Madlib] and "flylo the god." Alchemist cleverly built "WIND IN MY SAILS" around a sample culled from Eugene McDaniels' anti-Thanksgiving ode "The Parasite (for Buffy)" and the aforementioned Now-Again-released Thomas East composition.

The Witzard was already established nearly six years ago now, way back when in 2009-10, and one of the first artists I self-discovered and started communicating with was Harlem-based R&B crooner Jelly Jells, who then reverted to his given name, Giovanni James, around 2012. He's been largely inactive in recent years, aside from making Mad Max-esque "defurbished" cell phones and hand-made leather-bound Butcher James cases; that is, until Friday afternoon when he premiered two new tracks and a self-directed short film for "Shame On You" at The FADER. Their premier-accompanying piece bills James as a "Rockabilly Rapper," a rather interesting sentiment, to which I wouldn't wholeheartedly disagree. "Plenty of people in the world need shaming right now... I have my personal reasons for writing it, but would rather let the listeners' own life narratives dictate the meaning for them," Giovanni James told The FADER concerning his mysterious sources of inspiration.

"["Firewater" is a] feature I did recently. Got his info from someone over at Stones Throw. Happy to do it because features can be hit or miss, but his beat was sick with a powerful drive to it. Dope producer," Guilty Simpson wrote within a statement exclusively sent to The Witzard. "[Dan] Carey's beat is a murky, sinister jaunt layered thick with warped synths and dense drums. Seemingly, there is little room for any vocal to cut through the swampy low-end depths," Stereogum wrote within a premier-peppered piece. Mr. Dan said he reached out to Simpson through Stones Throw with the warbly, 808 drum-laden King of Rock-reminiscent "Firewater" beat and figured "there was no way I thought I'd get a reply." Carey has previously worked alongside Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, Chairlift, Tame Impala, Fatboy Slim, Yeasayer, and most recently, Bat for Lashes' Psych-Folk side project with TOY, Sexwitch.

"[Massive Attack] released an iPhone app this morning called Fantom, a "sensory music player" that actively remixes pieces of music based on the user's heartbeat, location, local time, and movement," The Verge wrote nearly two weeks ago, which at the time, seemed largely unrelated to any form of new Massive Attack material; although, it was soon revealed that The Fantom contained fragments of tracks titled "Dead Editors," "Ritual Spirit," "Voodoo In My Blood," and "Take It There." Pitchfork noted that the alter credited an appearance to "thaws," which was soon revealed to be fellow Trip-Hopper Adrian "Tricky" Thaws, who last appeared on a 3D & Daddy G-penned track eons ago in 1994. Fast forward to this past Friday, January 28th: Massive Attack quietly unveiled their first long-form collection of new music in nearly six years, 3D-produced Ritual Spirit xxXX EP accompanied by their brooding, cinematic Hiro Murai-directed "Take It There," which stars Deadwood and Eastbound & Down (Kenny Powers' brother) actor John Hawkes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Franz Ferdinand & Sexwitch Producer Mr. Dan Recruits Stones Throw Spitter Guilty Simpson for Sparse, King of Rock-reminiscent "Firewater" (Speedy Wunderground)

Guilty Simpson is a seasoned Motor City street-worn, hard as nails emcee, yet quite surprisingly, one of the most genuine, nicest artists I've ever encountered during my 5+ years running The Witzard. Simpson has quietly released a number of nearly flawless albums produced by Madlib, Oh No, Apollo Brown, an ill-fated and ultimately, scrapped album co-produced by J Dilla & Mr. Porter, a 6-song EP recorded with Small Professor, and most recently, my absolute favorite album of 2015, Detroit's Son helmed by Australian producer, Katalyst. I would almost personally attest, as a long-time Guilty Simpson fan and Stones Throw supporter, that his collective non-album material is arguably just as strong, if not even stronger, than his crop of full-length albums; throughout the course of his sprawling 25-year career, Guilty has unleashed acclaimed one-offs with the likes of the late great Dilla, who somehow managed to clear samples of James Brown and The Beatles, Jazz-minded electronic producer Four Tet, Geoff Barrow's 35-member Hip-Hop posse Quakers, short-lived beat-centric Tortoise side project Bumps, Lions producer and guitarist Dan Ubick's Connie Prince & The Keystones, and even "Testify," a non-album cut recorded with Katalyst during the Detroit's Son sessions and recently resurrected from the cutting room floor.

"["Firewater" is a] feature I did recently. Got his info from someone over at Stones Throw. Happy to do it because features can be hit or miss, but his beat was sick with a powerful drive to it. Dope producer," Guilty Simpson wrote within a statement exclusively sent to The Witzard. "[Dan] Carey's beat is a murky, sinister jaunt layered thick with warped synths and dense drums. Seemingly, there is little room for any vocal to cut through the swampy low-end depths," Stereogum wrote within a premier-peppered piece. Mr. Dan said he reached out to Simpson through Stones Throw with the warbly, 808 drum-laden King of Rock-reminiscent "Firewater" beat and figured "there was no way I thought I'd get a reply." Carey has previously worked alongside Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, Chairlift, Tame Impala, Fatboy Slim, Yeasayer, and most recently Bat for Lashes' Psych-Folk side project with TOY, Sexwitch. Carey-owned Speedy Wunderground imprint plans to release an instrumental-backed 7-inch record containing "Firewater," which is currently available for pre-order ahead of its February 26th and limited to a world-wide edition of just 250 copies.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Iggy Pop, Josh Homme & Members of Arctic Monkeys & Queens of The Stone Age Unveil "Gardenia" On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (Loma Vista)

"The collaboration started with a text message from [Iggy] Pop to [Josh] Homme, who recalled, "it basically said, 'hey, it would be great if we got together and maybe write something sometime – Iggy,'" The New York Times wrote within a recently published piece announcing Pop & Homme's feverishly-awaited collaborative album, Post Pop Depression. "We corresponded by text and prose poem for a while... I write poetry. It's a wonderful way to get to know somebody," Homme continued whilst on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert alongside band mate Iggy Pop on the eve of the album's spontaneous Thursday night announcement. Iggy Pop and Queens of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme performed on Colbert with a suit-clad six-piece band, which included Dead Weather guitar/keyboard player Dean Fertita, Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar, and former Superwolf bassist Matt Sweeney. It almost feels as though Post Pop Depression, judging by Colbert-debuted "Gardinia," will serve as a nearly flawless, fully ironed out rendition of Pop's notoriously lackluster Skull Ring (2003), which unsuccessfully attempted to marry influenced artists with the influencer himself.

Post Pop Depression reportedly picks up right where David Bowie-produced Lust for Life (1977) left off; "Where those records pointed, it stopped, but without copying it. That direction actually goes for miles. And when you keep going for miles you, can’t see these two records any more," Homme enthusiastically told The New York Times, concerning his production approach. Although, they've never seemingly worked together, Iggy Pop & Josh Homme previously appeared on the cover of an "Extreme 2001" issue of British Alt. Rock-minded publication, KERRANG! along with then-relevant shock rocker Marilyn Manson. Post Pop Depression is currently available for pre-order from Loma Vista in a number of assorted 9-track digital download, CD, and T-shirt-accompanied vinyl packages ranging in price from $10.99-44.99. Post Pop Depression's overall running theme, according to The Godfather of Punk himself, goes a little something like this: "What happens after your years of service? And where is the honor?"

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Linkin Park Emcee Mike Shinoda Remixes Homeboy Sandman & Aesop Rock's "One Step Closer"-sampling "Get a Dog" (Stones Throw)

"You may find that after listening to the project, it's nearly impossible to get it out of your head. It's only a matter of time before you share it with others," was a running unofficial mission statement during the relatively quiet roll-out for Homeboy Sandman & Aesop Rock's December-released and incredibly infectious Lice EP. Sandman & Rock, two seasoned underground vets who have collectively been active in the rap game for about 20 years and have forged ties with Blu, Felt, Madlib, Kimya Dawson, Das Racist, Hail Mary Mallone, El-P, Nevermen co-founder Doseone, Atmosphere emcee Slug, and Paul White. Charles Hamilton-produced Lice EP closer "Get a Dog" utilizes a phenomenally unexpected and rather hard-hitting sample culled from Linkin Park's 2000 break-out hit, "One Step Closer" and now, group emcee Mike Shinoda has submitted an original remix, effectively bringing the sample-based collaboration full circle. "I don't know how long I've been talking to [Homeboy] Sandman. We had talked about doing something together at some point. It was just kind of casual, and then, he sent me the "Get a Dog" original track," Shinoda recently told Rolling Stone concerning his remix's creation. "He emailed and said "Copyright infringement." I thought it was hilarious. ... I thought the beat was cool, but I also thought it'd be nice to have my touch on it ... to actually remove the Linkin Park sample and do what I would have done today," Mike Shinoda continued.

Peanut Butter Wolf's own Stones Throw Records, who co-released Lice EP along with Rhymesayers Ent. back before Christmas, have dubbed Shinoda's "Get a Dog" rendition as a Fort Minor Remix; seemingly an allusion to Mike Shinoda's recently reinvigorated outer-Linkin Park Hip-Hop side project, which unleashed their first single in nearly 10 years this past summer, "Welcome." Man, I can still vividly remember being completely mind-blown after hearing Fort Minor's impressive pre-album Green Lantern-hosted Hot 97 mixtape, Fort Minor: We Major, which featured clever samples lifted from Kanye, Funkadelic, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Rush, and The Miracles and showcased the vocal talents of then relative newcomers Lupe Fiasco & Holly Brook (these days, better known as Skylar Grey). "I don't have plans for a Fort Minor record, [but] I can predict that there will be a song here and there that will be a Fort Minor song that I can release in between projects," Shinoda told Rolling Stone's own columnist and musician Christopher R. Weingarten, when pressed if there might be a forthcoming follow-up to the rapper-producer collective's Rising Tied. Mike Shinoda's gritty "Get a Dog" Remix is now available from Stones Throw in accompaniment to Homeboy Sandman & Aesop Rock's painfully brief 5-track Lice EP, as well as Fort Minor's critically-acclaimed non-album comeback single, "Welcome."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Kanye, Madlib & Kendrick Lamar Unveil Junie Morrison, Ghostface Killah, Johnny Guitar Watson & Larry Graham-sampling "No More Parties In LA" (G.O.O.D. Fridays)

"Hey baby, you forgot your Ray Bans
And my sheets still orange from your spray tan
It was more than soft porn for the K-man
She remember my Sprinter, said "I was in the grape van"
Uhm, well cutie, I like your bougie booty
Come Erykah Badu me, well, let's make a movie...
No more parties in LA
Please, baby, no more parties in LA"

- Kanye & Kendrick Lamar
Kanye West is without a doubt one of the most charismatic, unabashedly outspoken to a fault, and arguably creative artists in all of Hip-Hop and even all of music; in my eyes, West, the self-proclaimed "No. 1 Rockstar On The Planet," could easily be likened to Classic Rock monoliths Queen, who once performed "Bohemian Rhapsody" at Glastonbury. For purposes of this very analogy I'm trying yo set up, that would in turn, make President Obama's favorite emcee, Kendrick Lamar, David Bowie in our "Under Pressure"-referencing equation. Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, along with Death Grips and Boards of Canada, was reportedly one of Bowie's greatest influences on what would end up ultimately being his last album and first American #1 album, ★. It almost boggles my mind that two undeniable Hip-Hop heavyweights such as Kanye & Kendrick Lamar, former Yeezus Tour partners, have yet to work together until now. Although, Lamar reportedly has a writing credit on "All Day," Madlib-produced "No More Parties In LA" marks their first time rapping alongside one another on the same original track. It's been reported that Madlib gave Kanye five beats around 2010 for inclusion on his "new album," which at the time, would have likely been My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; however, it's currently unclear if "No More Parties In LA" will end up resurfacing on Kanye's soon forthcoming SWISH or if any of Madlib's additional four hand-crafted beats will appear on the highly anticipated three years in-the-making Yeezus follow-up.

While it was released nearly three days late on Monday, January 18th, "No More Parties In LA" seemingly still counts as one of Kanye's newly-reinvigorated G.O.O.D. Fridays singles; @KimKardashian Tweeted early Sunday morning that "Kanye flew to Italy for a [Yeezy] Season 3 fitting," which explains the slight delay. "He flew [engineer] Noah [Goldstein] out with him, so he could finish "No More Parties In LA" & wrote 90 bars on the plane there... This is the first song ever with Kanye & Kendrick Lamar! He just landed & headed straight to the studio to finish it," Kardashian-West enthusiastically continued. "No More Parties In LA" was previously attached on last week's inaugural "Real Friends" G.O.O.D. Fridays drop and is built around a primary sample that Madlib culled from Ohio Players songwriter Junie Morrison's 1976 Suzie Super Groupie cut, "Suzie Thundertussy," as well as Ghostface Killah's "Mighty Healthy" (previously sampled on "New God Flow"), and intro lifted from Johnny Guitar Watson's 1977 Blues-laden wailer "Give me My Love," and a bridge section sampled from Drake's Uncle Larry Graham's "Stand Up and Shout About Love." It appears as though we'll be treated to a new G.O.O.D. Fridays track every Friday (or Monday morning) leading up until the "February 11 16" world-wide release of Kanye's long-awaited SWISH. Although, it's unclear whether or not any of the previously released singles or leaked tracks will appear within the rumored Rick Rubin & Q-Tip-produced Born In The U.S.A.-esque album.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bandcamp Remixer ayyy donkey Unleashes Super Mario Bros-reminiscent 8-bit Death Grips Collection, "Bitmilitary" Ahead of Bottomless Pit (Thirdworlds?)

Death Grips are a notoriously on again, off again, and currently reformed Hardcore Punk-infusing Sacramento-based "Aggro-Rap" band; if you're not familiar, just think, a hypothetical musical ménage à trois between Black Flag, Beastie Boys, and Gravediggaz – two of which are coincidentally sampled throughout their genre label-pulverizing debut mixtape, Exmilitary. Death Grips' underlying influence can, believe it or not, be heard on everything from recent father of two Kanye's own 2013 Dancehall-leaning Aggro-Rap magnum opus, Yeezus to recently deceased incomparable Thin White Duke's final album, ★ (Blackstar) which was additionally influenced by President Obama's favorite rapper, Kendrick Lamar. While we patiently await Bottomless Pit, the long-rumored follow-up to Death Grips' double-disc March-April 2015 "reunion" album, The Powers That B, an amateur remixer known as ayyy donkey has taken it upon themselves to unleash some unofficial DG-centric material to help tide eagerly-awaiting fans over in the meantime; our mysterious remixer, otherwise only known as "Bitgrips," has created a Super Mario Bros-reminiscent 8-bit rendition of Exmilitary that they've aptly-titled [Bitmilitary] and ends up sounding eerily like Tyler, The Creator & Odd Future's earliest output. I could only imagine how perfect frontman MC Ride's bellowed vocals might sound over these self-destructive 8-bit instrumentals... does anyone still happen to have those post-Exmilitary Black Google acapellas laying around?

It features eight rather sparse, yet very cleverly stripped own and re-blipped renditions of tracks that originally appeared within Death Grips' music industry-rattling sample-laden FREE mixtape, Exmilitary, this including "Guillotine," "Spread Eagle 'cross The Block," "Lord of The Game," and Black Flag-flipping "Klink." The only voice noticeably present throughout [Bitmilitary] is that of aspiring 1960-70's Folk-Rockstar turned infamous serial killer Charles Manson, who, if you remember correctly, was quite menacingly sampled on Exmilitary intro, "Beware" (here, he sounds something like Frylock from Adult Swim staple Aqua Teen Hunger Force). Although, Death Grips members MC Ride, Zach Hill, and Andy Morin are seemingly nowhere to be found, I almost wouldn't exactly begin to deny their involvement in [Bitmilitary] just yet, which almost seems to vaguely resemble the thinly-veiled roll-out for Death Grips-affiliated Thirdworlds "signed" band The I.L.Y.'s I've always been good at true love; now, I'm really going out on a limb here, but I almost wouldn't even put it past MC Ride, Hill & Flatlander to collectively be our amateur remixer ayyy donkey (Bitgrips). Not withstanding, Death Grips previously announced that they were holed up in the studio, actively writing, recording, and self-producing Bottomless Pit, back in October 2015, which I would imagine should likely be materializing for wide-spread consumption sooner than later, at this rate.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

"Space-Age Exotica" Producer Pablo Diaz-Reixa Re-emerges After Six-year Sabbatical with Wearable El Guincho Album, Hiperasia & Mala Rodriguez-featuring "Comix" (Nacional Records)

Barcelona-based Latin Alternative producer Pablo Diaz-Reixa's 2010 Young Turks/XL album under his El Guincho guise is easily a shimmering David Bowie & Michael Jackson-influenced Spanish-language Psych-Pop masterpiece. I've been (im)patiently awaiting Diaz-Reixa's proper follow-up to his nearly flawless Pop Negro for a solid year or so and now, it seems like he's finally readied his fourth album, Hiperasia for a digital release February 12th and a physical release a mere month later on March 11th. For those not exactly familiar with El Guincho's frenzied sample-laden output, it sounds like something similar to Vampire Weekend's Paul Simon Graceland-influenced "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" era material, which has additionally been described as Tropicália, Psych-Pop, and "Space-Age Exotica" stylized rhythms. Formerly the drummer for seemingly defunct Experimental-Batucada group Coconot, Pablo Diaz-Reixa has released three albums and an EP since forming one-man band El Guincho back in 2007; having released CD-R only Folías, critically-acclaimed Alegranza!, Piratas de Sudamerica, Vol. I EP, and the aforementioned Pop Negro. "Hiperasia is Madrid in macro. Las Tablas, China City, The M-30, Dalian Wanda Group, The Edificio España. It means me adapting to a new and exotic way of life. Experiencing more [of] the city, spending more time in its streets, an experience much less private than Barcelona," El Guincho enthusiastically described within a Nacional Records-sanctioned press release.

"I was blown away and entirely fascinated by the place. After visiting, I discarded almost all the material I had composed and started from scratch with the premise: how would that place sound if it were music?" Diaz-Reixa continued, concerning a string of Chinese bazaars in Madrid that helped indirectly inspire the creation of Hiperasia. El Guincho has re-emerged from his nearly six-year hiatus, aside from some drum programming on Björk's Biophilia, with a brand new Hiperasia single simply titled "Comix," which features an assist from Spanish rapper Mala Rodriguez. Since releasing Pop Negro on Young Turks, El Guincho has migrated to North Hollywood-based Nacional Records to unleash Hiperasia, who have teamed up with Wellness to create wearable wristbands and sweatshirts containing exclusive album content; "with [this NFC wristband], you are granted access to El Guincho's new album Hiperasia and the feature film directed by Manson, Hiperasia: The Animated Lyric Adventure (embedded above). Even more so this bracelet is your subscription to a world of ever-mutating content made available, until its demise, on streaming directly to you." Although I'm not entirely sure if they'll ultimately end up re-appearing within Hiperasia, I recently discovered two apparent album tracks, titled "Mis Hits" and "(Con un) Rotu Seco," which were quietly uploaded to YouTube by Everlasting Records-Otoño back on July 10th.

Monday, January 11, 2016

"I Don’t Know Where I’m Going from Here, But I Promise, It Won’t Be Boring;" Remembering David Bowie & Aristophanes 貍貓's "Dreams of Caves" (Thin White Duke-approved?)

Rock "N" Roll and quite arguably, music as a whole lost one of its most charismatic, uniquely individual, and beloved figureheads when David Jones aka The Thin White Duke aka Ziggy Stardust, otherwise known as the one and only David Bowie unexpectedly passed away early Sunday morning, January 10th, amongst the company of dear family and friends following an 18-month battle with cancer. I'm not even going to attempt to write a fully fleshed-out obituary to Bowie, hands down one of my all-time favorite performers since I was about 12, but I figured I would at least assemble a few of my thoughts and feelings into an all-too-brief hand-written tribute; a proper David Bowie obituary can be viewed over at Stereogum, which was written by Tom Breihan and served as a loose structural basis for this very piece. Throughout the course of his storied and ever-developing 52-year career, Bowie released some 28 genre-blending studio albums, produced one of the most critically-acclaimed Punk Rock albums (ie: The Stooges' Raw Power), continually wrote chart-topping hit after chart-topping hit, and was even expertly sampled during Jay Z's Kanye-produced Nas & Mobb Deep-slaying rap battle track, "The Takeover." David Bowie's most recent and ultimately, final album ★ was ironically, just released this past Friday, January 8th, which also happened to be Bowie's 69th birthday. Long-time producer, friend, and session bassist Tony Visconti recently revealed that ★ was somewhat surprisingly indirectly influenced by Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, recently reunited Aggro-Rap group Death Grips, and Electro-production duo Boards of Canada.

Tom Breihan said something towards the tail-end of his R.I.P. David Bowie obituary that instantly struck me as rather profound and compelling: "after suffering a heart attack in 2004, Bowie performed only rarely, though he was a common sight at shows in New York; a band's first big NYC show wouldn't seem that big of a deal unless Bowie was in the audience." So, with that said, I would like to dedicate this piece to the life, memory, and decades-long career of The Thin White Duke, David Bowie... Aristophanes 貍貓 is a young, buzz-worthy Taiwanese femcee, who I personally believe Bowie would be deeply interested in, were he still alive or maybe he had heard of her before his untimely passing. Grimes supposedly just stumbled upon the creative writing teacher turned Taipei rapper whilst assembling her recent critically-acclaimed album, Artangels; Aristophanes 貍貓 was recruited to rhyme on Nu-Metal-leaning album cut "SCREAM" and The FADER previously described her style as "music [that] involves rapping slinkily in Mandarin over seasick, glitchy beats" during their Grimes In Reality cover story. Gorilla vs. Bear founder Chris Cantalini was admittedly "psyched to premiere Aristophanes' first new material since her appearance on Artangels, in the form of the first track to be unveiled from her stellar forthcoming debut EP/mixtape, No Rush to Leave Dreams." "Dreams of Caves" features guest vocals from Tien and particularly self-destructive production work from Tokyo-based producer Hamacide, which sounds something like Purity Ring beatsmith Corin Roddick's recent Hip-Hop-minded material recorded with Chance The Rapper, R. Kelly & Jeremih. Cantalini vaguely promises that Aristophanes 貍貓's own hotly-anticipated debut project, No Rush to Leave Dreams will be "out soon" on a currently unspecified label, accompanied by a rather menacing piece of artwork designed by Zihling.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Kanye Drafts Producers Frank Dukes, Boi-1da, Mobb Deep Co-founder Havoc & Stones Throw Beat Konducta Madlib for "Real Friends & No More Parties In LA" (G.O.O.D. Fridays Revival)

I've recently been reading Shea Serrano's phenomenal New York Times best-selling The Rap Yearbook (a Hanukkah present from my wonderful girlfriend), in which he evaluates, ranks, and proceeds to meticulously break down "the most important rap song" from every year between 1979-2014. I would honestly, be flat out lying, if I said it hasn't largely affected the way I look at Hip-Hop singles in the grand scheme of the genre as a whole over the past few weeks; with that said, I would even go as far as to claim that Kanye's repeatedly upped, deleted, re-upped, deleted again, etc. double-header "Real Friends & No More Parties In LA" is quite arguably the most important Hip-Hop song of 2016. Its first 3/4's, "Real Friends," was collectively produced by Kanye, Frank Dukes, Boi-1da, and Mobb Deep co-founder Havoc and features a half-sung/rapped hook delivered by Ty Dolla $ign, while its latter 1/4 was hand-crafted by Stones Throw heavyweight, revered Jazz enthusiast, and overall human-beat machine Otis "Madlib" Jackson Jr. Now, I myself would personally like to assume that Kanye & Madlib were first introduced by their common cohort and collaborator Yasiin Bey aka rapper-actor Mos Def; Madlib & Bey have supposedly been concocting a mysterious Zamrock-based project for the past 3-5 or so odd years, although, to no widespread avail. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. West has been a long-time fan and supporter of Stones Throw's collective output, especially that of the late great J Dilla... having had the opportunity to produce a beat for "We F'ed Up" from Dilla's infamous ill-fated "MCA Album," otherwise known as unofficially released Pay Jay or Now-Again's long-rumored The Diary. Lest we forget, "Real Friends & No More Parties In LA" is reportedly just the first (or second, counting "FACTS") release attributed to Kanye's former My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy preceding G.O.O.D. Fridays revival leading up to SWISH.

"I could paint the scene of how I felt sitting there with Madlib, working on these tracks, and just hearing the textures. It was like, "something something / over the crib you left your Ray-Bans / My sheets still orange from your spray tan / No more parties in LA / No more parties in LA" — some sh*t. Matter of fact, now that you [the interviewer] brought this up, we might have to get some more Madlib beats for the next projects," Kanye enthusiastically gloated during an exclusive DVD extra from Stones Throw's 2014 film-length documentary, Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton. Madlib's aforementioned Kendrick Lamar-featuring "No More Parties In LA" is built around a sample culled from Ohio Players keyboardist Junie Morrison's 1976 Soul-Funk deep cut "Suzie Thundertussy," which has previously been utilized by none other than master-swordsmen Ghostface Killah and even Kanye himself on Pusha T's Cruel Summer stand-out "New God Flow." "I haven't worked on it at all, but everything I've heard is phenomenal and it has nothing to do with any of the other records that were released before," G.O.O.D. Music President Pusha T recently revealed to Rolling Stone, concerning the fate of Kanye's as-yet-released series of post-Yeezus singles like "All Day," "FourFiveSeconds," "Only One," "Wolves," and recent New Year's treat "FACTS." However, it was in fact announced on the heels of "Real Friends & No More Parties In LA" that @kanyewest's endlessly teased, self-described Born In The U.S.A.-magnitude SWISH will finally see a world-wide release this upcoming "February 11 16." It's unclear as to whether or not Kanye's previously billed "several" collaborations recorded with Sir Paul McCartney, which were initially teased surrounding "Only One"'s 2014-15 roll-out, will ultimately end up appearing somewhere within SWISH or if they'll sadly just peter off into the aether.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

White Denim Recruit 2015 US Air Guitar World Championship Finalist Michael "Operation Rock a [Meow]" Lovely for Tumultuous Riff-laden "Holda You (I'm Psycho)"

"Three years on from their critically acclaimed "barbeque" record Corsicana Lemonade, White Denim are back with more than just a new album to commemorate. Their sixth record, Stiff – out 25 March, 2016 via Downtown/Sony Red – is a return to the Austin quartet's frenetic rock band roots, and is both a jubilant thrill ride and joyous celebration of their past ten years," Downtown Records gushed within a label-sanctioned press release on the heels of Stiff lead-off single, "Holda You (I'm Psycho)." Stiff was preceded by frontman James Pertalli's lone solo outing under his newly-minted Bop English moniker, Constant Bop (April 2015) and a series of blistering 70's-indebted White Denim covers including "Custard Pie," Fargo-premiered "Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was In)," and "Light Up or Leave Me Alone." Mere weeks ahead of Thanksgiving, Downtown sent out an email to anyone who had purchased Corsicana Lemonade, which was somewhat mysteriously titled Shhhh... White Denim in 2016; "as White Denim's record label, we want to get the fans involved with everything White Denim that's happening in 2016... White Denim is such a special band to us, so we want to do something really cool in 2016 that's never been done before that you would be stoked to see happen. We have three questions for you. Let's have some fun."

Downtown Records' attached three-pronged fan survey included questions concerning the "coolest packaging" one could imagine for a future vinyl release, what the ultimate White Denim fan would do if presented the opportunity to hang out with the band, and elements they would like to see included in their live show. "'Holda You (I'm Psycho)" sounds like a band [re-energized] and [revitalized], resulting in what Petralli describes as a "high heat, high energy,"' Downtown continued. Stiff, which was nearly titled Ten in honor of both Pearl Jam and the band's tenth anniversary, features the debut of new band members Jonathan Horne and Jeffrey Olson, upon the sudden departure of former guitarist Austin Jenkins and drummer Joshua Block, who are now recording full-time with buzz-worthy crooner Leon Bridges. Director Kyle Gaughan's chunky riff-laden "Holda You" video was coincidentally released just one day after White Denim's Thursday afternoon Stiff announcement, which will additionally be accompanied by a state-hopping 31-date 2016 Stiff Tour. Gaughan ingeniously cast 2015's US Air Guitar World Championship finalist Michael "Operation Rock a P***y" Lovely as a fittingly white denim-outfitted air guitar-wielding axe man; plugged in sittin' on the dock of the bay, whilst straddling an crocodile's ferocious bite, amidst beautiful mountain tops and greener pastures, comfortably seated betwixt the wings of a bald eagle, and sporting an odd head and torso-less green screen-aided vest trickery. White Denim's forthcoming Stiff is currently available for pre-order in a number of CD, LP, and glitzy deluxe edition packages, ahead of it's March 25th world-wide release.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Detroit Emcee Red Pill Gets Animated to The Beat of Alex Goose's "90's Money" at The Hand of Lions Collaborator RUFF MERCY (Mello Music Group)

Alex Goose is, to the best of my knowledge, the first (and likely last) Hip-Hop-loving Middle American producer who's been lucky enough to have worked with vastly different musicians like underground gran-wizard, prolific rapper-producer, and revered Jazz enthusiast Madlib AND hit-after-hit-penning Indie Rock mavens, Weezer; aside from maybe only Uptown Funkateer and London-based producer and taste-maker Mark Ronson, who's recorded genre-blending material with everyone from Ol' Dirty Bastard to Doo-Wop revivalist Amy Winehouse. While he recently had the opportunity to remix Freddie Gibbs & Madlib's critically-acclaimed Piñata with samples culled from Now-Again Records founder Egon's storied re-issue vaults and back catalog, Goose has previously worked alongside the likes of Hip-Hop greenhorn emcees Kevin Gates, Jake Troth, Donnis, and Detroit-bred wordsmith Red Pill. "You may recognize the next Alex Goose-produced track from Silicon Valley. Red Pill lays hard-working slacker ambition bare in one dumb, drunk punch over the energetic beat. The song is as ludicrously lavish as [Martin] Scorsese's Wolf of Wall Street," reads a Mello Music Group press release attached to Red Pill's Day Drunk EP-centric Bandcamp page.

Mello Music Group of course, referring to Red Pill & Alex Goose's Day Drunk EP-housed collaboration, "90's Money," which as of today, now had a companion vibrant DayGlo-reminiscent video directed by former The Lions "The Magnificent Dance" animators, RUFF MERCY. Red Pill seems to be referencing what he calls "that 90's money... player-nomics on 'em. I want that dot com bubble... take away my troubles with that 90's money" or alternately "that Bill Gates hustle" that will take away his troubles, which I'm assuming to be Apple and Microsoft's early 1990's Internet Boom co-monopoly and it now makes sense as to why Mike Judge's latest latest modern day tech bubble HBO comedy, Silicon Valley ultimately sought out usage "90's Money." Red Pill's 6-track Day Drunk EP is currently available for purchase in either digital or deluxe "8 Color Double Rainbow" LP formats and features production work from Paul White, Oddisee, Exile, Hir-O, and Red Pill himself, in addition to Goose's aforementioned Beastie Boys-esque "90's Money." Alex Goose is currently finishing up an instrumental beat album for Egon's Now-Again imprint; during our recently-published interview, he said that "it's more beats I've made using samples from the Now-Again catalog that have been [licensed] for commercials, film, and TV."

Sunday, January 3, 2016

What a Time to Be Alive: Kanye Unleashes Jimmy Fallon & The Roots-referencing "FACTS" ahead of New Year's Eve 2015-16 (G.O.O.D. Music)

"The "Wolves" song came from a conversation that me and Drake had, where we was going to do an album together and the album was called Wolves... me and Jay [started] talking about Watch The Throne, then Drake went and did all the records with [Lil'] Wayne and did the tour," Kanye unexpectedly revealed to The Breakfast Club radio host and one-time Catfish co-detective Charlamagne The God last February on the heels of his spirited SNL 40 medley. Lest we forget that Kanye once produced Drake's 808's & Heartbreak-reminiscent "Find Your Love;" making Kanye's recent "Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy, just jumped over Jumpman" What a Time to Be Alive interpolation and apparent Drake diss all the more perplexing. Not entirely unlike Paul McCartney-assisted "Only One" released over New Year's Eve 2014-15, "FACTS" was quietly uploaded to Soundcloud mere hours ahead of this year's annual New Year's festivities. Metro Boomin & Southside-produced "FACTS" likely stems from the same sessions that previously yielded "All Day," "FourFiveSeconds," "Only One," and the aforementioned Sia & Vic Mensa-assisted "Wolves," which will apparently all re-appear within Kanye's long-rumored Yeezus (2013) follow-up SWISH; having been described as "cookout music that feels good," even likened to the Nebraska to his Born In The USA, and "about embracing the music and embracing joy and [the] joy of being of the service to the people."

"I stuck to my roots, I'm like Jimmy Fallon / I ain't dropped the album, but the shoes went platinum," Kanye ferociously rhymes on "FACTS" making a clever allusion to Jimmy Fallon's Philly-bred Late Night & Tonight Show house band, The Legendary Hard-workin' Roots Crew. Throughout the nearly four-minute duration of "FACTS," Mr. West effortlessly manages to make similar-minded witty allusions to Bill Cosby's recent arrest and countless assault charges, Steve Harvey's December 20th Miss Universe-crowning announcement debacle, his wife Kim Kardashian-West's newly-launched custom Kimojis, and his previous Yeezy negotiations with with Nike: "Nike, Nike treat employees just like slaves." Metro Boomin & Southside chose a particularly menacing, lurching into and outro sample lifted from Funk-Soul group Father's Children's 2011 Numero Group album WHO'S GONNA SAVE THE WORLD? that goes a little something like, "Dirt and grime and filth inside. The story of my lifetime... of cheating, stealing, never feeling. Pain of a brother, your dirty mother. Ha, ha, ha... look how far we are. (Perfect!)" "I haven't worked on it at all, but everything I've heard is phenomenal and it has nothing to do with any of the other records that were released before," newly-elected G.O.O.D. Music President Pusha T recently gushed to Rolling Stone concerning Kanye's tentatively-titled SWISH, which is rumored to be nearly 80% completed. "That's all I can really say about it. He's super meticulous about the messaging about his album but you guys are in for a treat."

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Witzard Premier: WEEKENDS Multi-instrumentalist Adam Lempel Tunes AM Rock Radio to Folky Indie Rockin' "Don't Know Why" (Friends Records)

"Adam Lempel started making solo records as a departure from his work in Baltimore Noise Rockers WEEKENDS. Focusing more on songwriting and heartfelt lyrics, his first record Adam Lempel & The Heartbeats stood out in the Baltimore DIY music scene because it was so unapologetically straight-forward. After getting into the Conservatorium van Amsterdam to study classical music composition, he moved to Amsterdam where he currently lives," reads a brief description attached to Baltimore by way of Amsterdam multi-instrumentalist Adam Lempel's about me page. Lempel and his noisy partner-in-crime, Brendan Sullivan quietly put out three guitar feedback-drenched albums and and aptly-titled Acoustic Tape, Vol. 1 between 2008-2013; right on the cusp of Indie Rock's frenzied WEEKENDS/Weekend/The Weeknd mass confusion felt echoed across the blogosphere. However, WEEKENDS have been on an indefinite hiatus since the majority of copies of their then-forthcoming third album, "NEW HUMANS" (2013) were suddenly lost when an auto body shop, which co-existed as a makeshift "art gallery, practice space, and much more" tragically burned to the ground. Adam Lempel has released a number of rather subdued and stripped down solo releases including Instrumentals, Adam Lempel & The Heartbeats, and 80's-tinged Adam Lempel & The Casiobeats, as well as a number of self-released projects and EP's during the Noise-Rock duo's still unspecified break.

"Hey Matt, here's the video for the first single off Still Life called "Don't Know Why." I made it edited it myself and it was shot by Juliet Altonen... Still Life will be out the last week of February on Friends Records," Lempel wrote within a recent email sent over the holidays; as he's briefly returned home from The Netherlands, where he's currently perusing a masters degree in music design, to kick off the roll-out for his soon forthcoming third solo album, Still Life. Adam Lempel has given me the great honor to officially premier his self-edited music video for lead single, "Don't Know Why." It reminds me of a unique blend of Folk-indebted Indie Rock and 1950's AM Radio Rock "N" Roll akin to Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley & His Comets, etc. which seemingly fits the bill, as Lempel's previous Heartbeats-backed album was befittingly tagged as "alternative baltimore folk pop rock singer songwriter." While additional release details are currently sparse, Adam Lempel has personally assured me that Friends Records expects to release Still Life sometime during the last week of February and it "features vocals from fellow musician, Amanda Glasser." I'm able to additionally report that Lempel and WEEKENDS co-founder Brendan Sullivan have a stockpile of unreleased recordings; however, it's unclear as to what exactly Friends Records ultimately plans to do with it.